‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Ser Pounce, King of Westeros

Season 4, Episode 4: Oathkeepers

This week a lot of nothing happened in Westeros and yet the show still laid on the horrors thick. We found out who killed Joffrey; Dany continues her shock and awe campaign; everything north of the Wall is mayhem and brutal. But at least we have Ser Pounce!

Totals this episode:
Deaths: 0
Nudity: too much 
New horrors: infanticide, rape (again, HBO?!), seducing a child

Jonathan White: Well, shit just got nuts.

Kadi Hughes:  The amount of rape on this show is getting to dangerous levels.

JW: Rape should never be pedestrian.

KH: I didn’t like this episode. Nothing really happened. Brann continued to be lame; Dany is studying up on fascist marketing techniques; Sansa is crying. I know that with every season there are a few of these draggy episodes when the chess pieces line up. I guess this was just one of them. Did you think this was a boring episode?

JW: I liked it  because now the books are useless. This just became a TV show and not an adaptation.  Those books are useless to me. They might as well be Brann’s legs. Let’s start with Meereen — Missandei is so hot for No Worm.

KH: They were bonding over their homeland. It was a telling scene. Dany thinks she is safe but she is still just a master. I was actually happy for that scene because I find some of her ‘white liberator’ narrative difficult.

JW: #killallmasters. Meereen is not a bother… for now.

KH: The Dany scenes do offset all the other parts of the show where women are being brutalized.

JW: Dany was colder than a Brooklyn creamery. So dot cold dot net.

KH: Her strategy is on point.

JW: Take that, slavers. Meereen gets props for the cleanest sewers ever.

KH: Everyone there is on a cleanse. The citizens of Meereen are avid readers of Goop. Bronn would never do a cleanse. He’s too cool,  doling out wisdom and slapping people with their own hands.

JW: Bronn is the big brother that Jamie needed. Jamie also came back from being a raper so well and even Cersei was like … oh, you. Jamie getting slapped in his rape face with his rape hand — no one likes that.

KH: True, but besides getting golden slapped — no repercussions for his rape.

JW: None whatsoever.

KH: Instead, Cersei comes off as bitchy because she’s pissed at her brother who rapped her and now just wants to hang out.

JW: Boycott HBO.

KH: If I boycotted HBO then I would have to engage with people. That would be horrible.

JW: Then we have Karl. What a worse man. He was drinking from Mormont’s skull and arranging rape.

KH: The skull drinking was really gross but it did instantly establish him as a crazy villain.

JW: That, being super Aryan and acting like a looooooooooon.

KH: He has total creeper face.  His skin looks like stretched plastic.

JW: He is meant to be from King’s Landing but sounds Northern.

KH: As soon as they get to the Wall, all the recruits go Northern. You know what they say. Once you go Northern…you become a crazy, evil rapist.

JW: Once you take the black, you never go back.

KH: Those twins are screwed. They are both going to be brutalized. The girl because she has curly hair and because it is GoT so something sexually terrible has to happen to all the female characters. The boy because he is pretty and epileptic.

JW: Brann is a shitbag. Brann was my favorite, and now I want him to become a wineskin.

KH: Poor Hodor getting lanced. I teared up that that.

JW: Just remember in real life Hodor is a gay DJ. He’s fine.

KH: I guess it will be satisfying when Jon Snow & the A-Team arrive, unleash those wolves, kill all the rapers.

JW: Snow and the B-Team, at best.

KH: This is really difficult for me to say, but I don’t think that the direwolves are very smart. Ghost is stuck, and Summer is letting Bran the idiot drive him about.

JW: They are very smart but not used to kennels. Kennels make all dogs want a new master and biscuits.

KH: I was glad we found out what exactly happened to the babies. The White Walkers are turning them into Wights, not eating them.

JW: That whole baby shite. FUCK OFF HBO.

KH: Actually, yes fuck off HBO. This episode reached new depths. Let’s just make a list of all the egregious things: lots more rape, drinking out of someone’s skull, having no consequences for raping your sister, seducing children.

JW: Blue eyed cackhandery CGI, wolf bollockry.

KH: Oh, and just some light infanticide.

JW: Moving on. Diana Rigg. Lady Olenna. What a monster. She’s the best player of the GoT.

KH: She hints at her crime to Sansa at the wedding, kills Joffrey with sneaky jewelry, clearly has a magical vagina, and encouraged Margaery to sexually seduce a 10-year-old.

JW: And hates gardens because they are boring. Too much Ser Dontos there, and lemon cakes. The QoT is bored with it all.

KH: It was a good night for Tommen.  Snuggled in for bed, hanging with Ser Pounce (noted badass), and then a hot lady comes in to talk about you owning her.

JW: Ser Pounce. We need more of him. It’s the best name for an animal that should not survive ever. He’s the next king — after Tommen is soiled by the ginger sex panther.

KH: Ser Pounce is playing the long con. You would never expect it!

JW:  SPOILER ALERT. The cat wins.

KH: What else happened this episode? Nothing. Jon Snow teaches idiots how to die.

JW: Roose Bolton’s chap is made welcome as no one knows anything.

KH: Is Bolton’s man just gathering recon or sent to kill Jon Snow?

JW: I was hoping to kill him but now I think he’s just become one of a number of great double acts on this show: Pod and Brienne, Jamie and Bronn, Bronn and Jamie’s Hand.

KH: Bronn goes with everyone.

JW: Littlefinger is becoming more eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil…and Irish. Not unrelated.

KH: He is! Every episode he sounds more and more lilting.

JW: Broguery with Littlefinger.

KH: I do think that Littlefinger is — of all the characters — the easiest to deal with. You know what he wants — power — and you know he will do anything to get it. He’s a known quantity.

JW: SEXY LF wins again.

KH: Sexy LF always wins. That is the lesson in this show. The shittiest people win. So Dany, Jon, Tyrion — all these people who are angling in some way for the throne or power, the question is, how shitty can you be?

JW: This episode was like Pearl Jam — what was the point?

KH: There was no point. There was no Arya or the Hound. There was no real movement, but also no real emotional payoff. So what do we want to happen next time?

JW: I want Oberyn and Tywin to talk in Pinteresqe non sequiturs for a menacing 20 minutes. I want Tyrion to get a crack at freeing himself.

KH: GoT needs to scale back the sex & sexual violence because it is losing its efficacy.  I am becoming completely desensitized to it.

JW: Craster’s house needs to be burned down.

KH: We’ll probably get to the Eyrie next week for maybe a Stark reunion and some gratuitous breastfeeding. I want some convergence of the different storylines. It’s sad Olenna Tyrell is leaving King’s Landing. It would have been great if she was on the throne.

JW: QoT to rule them all but not sex them first — no matter “how good” at it she is. She is a liar and a boss. But what else will happen? After all the wtf this week, who knows. We need  Clarissa to come and explain it all.

Tune in next week for more musings on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO.

Image of courtesy HBO.



‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: Pissing Contest

Season 4, Episode 3: History Lessons

Last week we celebrated the gnarly poisoning of King Joffrey. This week, life was back to an idyllic Eden in the capital with butterflies and kitten kisses. Wait, this is Game of Thrones. Everything is terrible. We have a new king on the throne, new levels of violence and horror and a new meanings to ‘pissing contest.”

Totals this episode:
Deaths: 1 in an honor duel in Meereen + 20? in Wildling attack
Nudity: 5 ladies, 1 male partial
New horrors: Twincest rape. Do we need to go on?

Kadi Hughes: Where to begin?

Jonathan White: Where else but the rapers? We could with the ones at the Wall where every other man is a raper, but probably should begin with the necro-incesto-raper.

KH: I know that Westeros is a brutal place and rape is just another weapon. But there were so many things wrong with that scene.

JW: That is true. It’s reading all of the news ever in a minute. It’s a little much. In just two scenes, that and an actual pissing contest with a neat decapitation and a horse getting shanked.

KH: That pissing contest was ridiculous. RIP,  noble horse. I think that was our first penis shot?

JW: That was the first view from behind of a bellend. I am not ashamed to say I rewound to check if we saw the hairless chap from the orgy’s hickory and was not sure.

KH: Perhaps we need a freeze frame.

JW: Like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Biggest urban myth of the late ’80s or a look at a famous cock’s famous cock? You decide.

KH: I do think that (with only a few exceptions) they use the violence/horror for a reason.

JW: What is their aim with Cersei and Jaime?

KH: To show that Jamie is a changed person, to remind us that their relationship is gross and horrible, to show how isolated and alone Cersei is and perhaps understand why she acts like she does. She can trust no one, not even her twin brother-baby daddy.

JW: There are many reasons but I hope they have a plan rather than just being well into rape as a TV trope.

KH: “Rape as a TV trope” is a disturbing new trend. This, of course, isn’t the first rape of the series nor do I suspect it will be the last. It’s worth noting how certain rapes are given more weight then others. Oberyn’s sister is raped and killed and he goes on a life quest to kill everyone involved. Jamie’s sister is raped…by him.

JW: Given what has happened with Jamie (and it not going down like that in the books) there are some interesting times ahead.

KH: This could be the beginning of a lot of departures from the books, which will make it exciting to watch for those who have read the books (you) or those who have skimmed the Wikipedia entries (me).

JW: It’s exciting to know what the showrunners’ decision process is and that they are not scared of making changes.

KH: At what point were they sitting around and said, “You know what? We really just need more sexual violence on this show.”

JW: They also ruined it for the book-reading-incest-crowd who must have thought that it was hot and then realized it was terrible. In the books, it does not come across as rape at all and this was far removed from that.

KH: It does help remind us how gross that whole situation is — incest, the rampant inbreeding in Westeros.

JW: It’s not gross in Westeros. Dany was destined to marry her brother; Craster is king of the incest. There are some bad folk.

KH:  It is implied that the Mad King was partially mad because of inbreeding. Or was it lead poisoning?

JW: Iron throne poisoning and being a bit too pedigree.

KH: Rape aside, I did like the crypt scene for setting things up with Tywin and Tommen.

JW: Tywin is worth a show on his own. Tommen seems like a nice lad in the way that anyone who is not Joffrey could get away with anything.

KH: Tommen is a muppet. It’s a battle for his soul between Cersei, Tywin, and Margery.

JW: There was a lot of camp in this episode. Funny looks from Dany.

KH: She is very arch. The eyebrows and ‘bitch, please’ vibe.

JW: But especially Peter Baelish shooting the man made of blancmange.

KH: Littlefinger! I was very happy to see him, that crazy little Irish imp.

JW: They should call him Neverliftsafinger, always wearing a gown and scheming. He can not even be bothered to pull a crossbow unless he has lots of little fingers. He should twirl his moustache when he reveals that he is the master of cunning.

KH: Total diva. I know we should be sad about Ser Dontos but I was very happy to see him get arrowed in the face.

JW: He’s a Ser fashioned in a jelly mould.

KH: I also loved Littlefinger’s villain line: “Gold buys a man silence for a time, death buys it forever.” Then turn on his heel and mince away with giant Sansa. BURN.

JW: His voice is getting madder like it is a pantomime and he’s drunk and he wanted to get sacked anyway.

KH: It’s so breathy and evil.

JW: He should say “darling” more and cackle. Maybe turn off the smoke machine though, even if you are an “evil villain” in a frock.

KH: How involved is he with the brothel? That hairless blonde will-o-wisp is one of his spies, right?

JW: He is very involved. The Red Viper is my new favorite, mostly for wearing trousers in an orgy (an orgy I promised last week, no less). Just in case he has an important meeting. Quite the chap.

KH: Does Oberyn believe Tywin about not knowing about his sister?

JW: I don’t think he believes anything in King’s Landing but he’s shrewd and plays his cards to his bare chest.

KH: His Sand Sister was also fully dressed in that romp. Maybe fully clothed orgies are the trend in Dorne.

JW: That’s a CFNM thing (Clothed Female, Nude Male) but here it’s CDNP — Clothed Dornishmen, Nude Prostitutes. Very niche sex for the fantasy fans. How is this shit on TV?

KH: It seemed a bit tame compared to all the beheadings and cannibalism.

JW: The cannibalism would be more shocking if they were people and not fucking madballs with Norwegian accents.

KH:  Do they eat everyone? Is there no locavore movement? I would think the boy would be the tastiest, a human veal, but I am neither a cannibal nor a Norwegian.

JW: Invasavorism is meant to work the other way — not you invade and eat. These Thenns are awful.

KH: As soon as that rural urchin said, “I love mum’s boiled potatoes!” I thought, Well, you’re dead.

JW: He got dealt with. His son was a bit of a simpering wazzock. He hid in the worst hiding place ever, looking away from everyone.

KH: Arya would have attacked back.

JW: She would have eaten them in a stew.

KH: Happily! When the kid goes to warn the Night’s Watch that enraged me.

JW: Because he skipped there?

KH: No, because those people do nothing! They all just look dirty and cold and completely inefficient.

JW: GRRM based them on the Neighborhood Watch. They have no legal powers. It’s just a community group.

KH: It’s a community group of sex pests who is who you want, to guard you against demon zombies.

JW: Neighborhood Watch for a community on the register.

KH: I get why Sam wants Gilly to not be at Castle Black but seriously, fool, you put her in that whore house? I had no idea what the gender of that thing in the whore house was, the one who was sizing her up, asking if she was a wilding.

JW: I don’t like when people sound like they don’t ordinarily swear, “a FUCKING wildling.” Slow down, you monobrowed brass.

KH: I am not emotionally or psychologically prepared for a Gilly-Sam sex scene. I would like to go on the record about that.

JW: Picture how Ser Dontos was made (it’s also how you make a trifle).

KH: He was hatched from an egg — like, a chicken egg, not a womb egg.

JW: He is like the kid off Dinosaurs. Happy Easter!

KH: The bunny left you a giant egg with an ineffectual grown man inside! I need to talk about something good — let’s move on to the Onion Knight! I very much enjoy his reading lessons and the “kniggit” Monty Python reference. Operation: Esso Gold Boat begins.

JW: They just have mad cash. The Iron Bank is wedged so they can lend to everyone. The Onion Knight is a genius.

KH: He is, an honorable thief. It’s a great gambit. Well done, Onion Knight!

JW: He’s a smart one. Stannis might have reason to be less of a sour prick all the time.

KH: Where is Stannis and why are they always damp? Not even damp, they are soaked through.

JW: Dragonstone. That’s why everyone loves the Fire God and is miserable.

KH: The arthritis must be terrible.

JW: Man, the Onion Knight will get phantom arthritis in his no fingers. Poor man.

KH: I only want good things for the Onion Knight so that means terrible things await him.

JW:  Onion Knight in a pickle, you say?

KH: That’s a new menu item for a GoT themed sandwich shop. Jon Snowcones.

JW: Littlefinger buffet. A bowl of Bronn. It also does fusion — Essos meets Westeros. Salmon Meereen.

KH:  Everything else is just pies. It’s a really high concept place but then they got lazy. Back to the Onion Knight. He’s such a great character because most characters on this show are either smart and assholes (Littlefinger, Tywin, Tyrion) or noble and idiots (Starks, every Northern peasant). Onion Knight is both.

JW: The Onion Knight is one of the most likeable for that reason and the Hound is sort of like a malcontent version.

KH: Arya and the Hound had some good scenes, starting with the Hound’s snot rocket prowess and ending with him giving Arya the ‘teachable moment’ that the way her family sees the world may be noble but wrong.

JW: That was like Don’t Be A Menace To South Central. He loves teaching the kids through life learning and harsh lessons.

KH: Arya is definitely the smartest Stark though — just her ability to roll with it and adapt to the surroundings, playing that farmer for delicious rabbit stew.

JW: She has got smarts. The message in GoT seems to be that only young rich girls who kill motherfuckers are going to be okay. She and Dany are bossing it. Everyone else is getting hard trouble.

KH: Dany is waging a very effective hearts & minds campaign.

JW: She is indeed, lobbing chains at folk. They love that. I also like the message for all blonde girls that everyone likes you  and will fight for you if someone pisses you off — or pisses at you — while you make a silly face. Ex-slavers and ex-slaves alike. Way to make all the blonde girls feel good, HBO.

KH: I want more action from her! Lobbing chains was a nice touch but just light those fools up with your dragons! If HBO has the CGI budget for manacle catapults, then they have it for dragon attacks.

JW: Do dragons only have a set amount of fire? “Shit! It’s run out!”

KH:  I once watched an animated cartoon where Sean Connery played a dragon and their fire did run out — unless they ate limestone, which is why you always find a lot of dragons near limestone. I take that as a scientific fact.

JW: It explains the danger of certain areas of the the UK, where former Bonds lurk and lie to kids.

KH: Never go north of Glasgow. It’s all dragons up there. An aside, as a Brit, do you find this show layered with geographical-socio commentary? The rich and powerful are southern; the northerners are simple, etc.

JW: Yes, mostly on accents. The books are even more so. Posh people are all southern and even the northern lords are unaccustomed to how court works. The books are much worse and I am not sure what the Dornish and Essos suggestions are, likely something worryingly racist. Best not dwell. So let’s move on to Tyrion … not looking good for the clear hero.

KH: He still has some hustle in him. At least he has Pod.

JW: Where did Pod pull out the duck sausage?

KH: He clearly is no stranger to a Dornish orgy.

JW: Or that cathouse owned by Littlefinger.

KH: He is a boy of many talents.

JW: Yes, and so likeable.

KH: The most concerning about that interaction was the news that Bronn is being charged as an accessory. No one puts Bronn in a corner.

JW: Bronn’s going to make more people scream. Shame Tyrion had to be mean to Pod. Now the only man he might see is a one-handed monster who raped his sister.

KH: Tyrion has some moves left. I am not worried about a last minute crafty maneuver, especially since it is a power grab in the capital.

JW: He’s going to benefit from the vacuum?

KH: I think Tyrion and Littlefinger do best in chaos.

JW: Varys has been all too quiet. He should be making some power moves.

KH: The Spider is definitely mixing it up with old Lady Tyrell.

JW: I want someone to tell him to grow a pair and she would.

KH: What’s next? Dany takes more slave cities? Jon Snow goes back north of the Wall to kill the rapist insurgents? We also have a big trial coming up, Law & Order Westeros style.

JW: Let’s hope Oberyn heard “orgy” when Tywin said “trial” and he is straight in. Jon Snow needs to go and kill him some folks but his plan might need to be better than that. Dany is going to cause some terror. She might even drop a dragon on  ’em. We’re going inside Meereen.

KH: I’m glad that Tywin acknowledged Dany this episode. People in King’s Landing need to start getting nervous about Dragon Attacks and White Walkers.

JW: They really ought to but they should just be nervous  — poisoned weddings, boy kings, non-canon rapes, trials, people stealing wine.

KH: Just another day in Westeros.

Tune in next week for more musings on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO.

Image courtesy of HBO.


Lit Links: Remembering ‘El Gabo’, 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners, When Memoirs Go Bad

Celebrating the Conjurer of Literary Magic
The New York Times ran a wonderful obit of Gabriel García Márquez, who passed away on Thursday, reminding us all how Márquez changed the literary landscape. Time to re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The Cost of Spilling Family Secrets Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-part, brutally honest autobiographical novel, My Struggle, has turned him into an international literary sensation – and made him an outcast to his friends and family. The New Republic looks at the personal cost of writing the truth.

Catching up on the 2014 Pultizer Prize Winners
Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer for fiction (well deserved in our opinion).  Longreads compiled pieces from the winners of the other categories – perfect for your weekend reading.

Saint-Exupéry, Saintly Hands, Sainted Innocence
Guernica looks at what inspired the man behindThe Little Prince.

The Disillusionist
Imagine a family like the Downton Abbey clan gone bad. ” Edward St. Aubyn is from a failed aristocratic family, headed by a sexually abusive and tyrannical father. From a bleak childhood, he grew up to be “a raging heroin addict and also a brilliant, corrosive master of Wildean one-liners.” The Atlantic looks at his new novel, Lost for Words, which chronicles his strange and curious life.

Radka Denemarková on translating Herta Müller
Czech novelist, playwright and translator Radka Denemarková on the joys and trials of translating the work of Nobel Prize winner  Herta Müller.

‘Game of Thrones’ Recap: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Season 4, Episode 2: The Lion and the Rose

Season Four is racing forward at breakneck speed: A bit of karmic balance was restored. We caught up with Team Stannis and the Lord of Light, and Brann got a mystical vision from a tree.  We celebrated the best wedding ever to take place in Westeros — bridges made from a giant lion’s maw, a pie full of pigeons, oh, and Joffrey the Shit’s face exploded with poison. The future looks rough for Tyrion, but let’s just enjoy this brief, happy moment, shall we? These joyous occasions are so rare in Westeros. LDR is away this week so the ever witty Jonathan White — pop culture expert and publisher of The Cleaver Quarterly — steps in to chat with us about poison, creating a GoT superteam, and Bronn.

Totals this episode:
Deaths: 2
Nudity: 1/2 (pantsless acrobat at the wedding)
New horrors: the complete glee we felt witnessing a well-deserved death

Kadi Hughes: The Purple Rain Wedding.

Jonathan White: The perils of purple drank. Joffrey is an absolute cretin.

KH: Did you think that it was a satisfying death for Joffrey? I did like how they really ramped up how terrible he was. It was a greatest hits of the worst little shit in Westeros — slashing the book of knowledge with Valerian steel, pouring the wine on Tyrion, the dwarf play.

JW: Launching money at people with more physical prowess than he has ever shown before. Same with the sword. He’s been rubbish at being “manly” throughout but on his big day with the lovely Margaeryhe comes strong. And then dies. A lot. Top makeup by the way. Hats off to the makeup department.

KH: He looked like a jellyfish.

JW: He looked like a cartoon rabbit with myxomatosis. Jack Gleeson (who plays Joffrey) is meant to be lovely.

KH: And a poet!

JW: But he’s not. He is an evil boy king who deserves everything he got.

KH: I like to think of GoT as a documentary.

JW: We all should. None of those people exist outside of the TV.

KH: Can we sidetrack about Dorne for a moment? Because I don’t really understand what they are all about. Just hanging out in the desert and having pan-sexual orgies? They are not part of the Seven Kingdoms.

JW: Burning Man but with Spanish exchange students. Dorne seems boss.

KH: That is my personal idea of hell. Send me to the White Walkers over that trash.

JW: I politely disagree. There is a man with gout who SPOILER ALERT loves watching kids in the swimming pool. He sounds like a Bond villain. Lots of strong wine and stronger women and the Martells are obviously named after the cognac.

KH: I do like Ellaria Sand and the Sand sisters. Very good exchange between Oberyn/Ellaria and the Lannisters.

JW: I think there should be more sands and fewer snows, a prequel where it’s summer and there is no winter coming at all. A brief aside: This episode seemed to be written by GRRM — the Red Viper and Ellaria Sand came in and stared at un upturned vagina.

KH: He does write the perviest scenes. That was a great exchange for the way they dismissed Tyrion. Though, in all honesty, if you are going to have an orgy in Westeros, Tyrion should be top of the invite list.

JW: Tyrion had the hardest time of it in this episode, no love at all.

KH: I think this season will be hard for him in general.

JW: I think things might look up at the end.

KH: Pretending you haven’t read the books, who do you think poisoned Joffrey?  A lot of red herrings and possibilities thrown about.

JW: There were some Murder She Wrote red herrings in there.

KH: We need Jessica Fletcher!! Poison is a woman’s work.

JW: But there’s a few fey men in King’s Landing.

KH: My money is on Cersei.

JW: Cersei might hate Tyrion enough to frame him.

KH: Her (inbred) son was a monster, she is set to marry the Knight of the Flowers, she is powerless…until she kills Joffrey. With him gone and the little Lannister being underage, she is Queen Regent again.

JW: A great conspiracy theory; I am willing to back it.

KH: I am glad Shae is gone. I am all for porn stars going mainstream but I found that character tedious. But that scene when Tyrion sent her away was straight up Harry and the Hendersons.

JW: Sasha Grey in Entourage — which I know you hate — made a better case for mainstreamification.

KH: Entourage should fill its pockets with rocks and walk into the sea.

JW:  Or fight Bronn by the sea. MORE BRONN.

KH: Bronn is a joy to behold in every scene.

JW: He’s the same man in Ripper Street. Jerome Flynn is doing it all.

KH: Of course Bronn is macking all these ladies.

JW: Other men’s ladies and they are screamers. I think he was macking some ladies at the Purple Wedding based on the screams.

KH: I did not like Ser Dontos popping up at the end by Sansa and trying to whisk her away.

JW: He casts a sad figure. He is a ninny.

KH: So of course Sansa will trust him. That girl has the worst judgment. Arya got all the smarts. Sansa, all the ginger.

JW: Arya is my favorite. Arya and the Hound could be a kids’ show.

KH: Teaching you moral lessons and cautionary tales.

JW: “If someone takes your sword what do you do? Did someone say stick them with the pointy end? You got it, kids!” Though you never know what will happen with Sansa. The showrunners deserve mad credit for swerving much of the books.

KH: The books,  in my opinion, need a strong edit and that is what the showrunners do.

JW: Agreed. I would go so far as to say that all books in this genre need a strong edit — or an author’s mum kicking them out of the garage and making them get a job.

KH: Except for the original Dragonlance series. Those books are perfection. Let’s talk about Stannis. This is another plot line I can’t really get behind.

JW: Stannis is a miseryguts and rightly so. His wife is a loon and intent on burning everyone. His pal Melisandre has stopped having smoke babies and is intent on burning everyone. His kid is half concrete and looks like someone being Ben from Fantastic Four on Halloween.

KH: He looks constantly constipated. EACH SOME LEAFY GREENS. The Onion Knight is is worth rooting for but it’s an uphill battle caring about the rest of them.

JW: Onion Knight is a true hero, starting back from when he launched a water-based rendition of Stomp! on the Blackwater.

KH: When watching this show, I always want the great characters to find each other and team up — Arya, Tyrion, Dany, Onion Knight, Bronn — like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but with more direwolves.

JW: Just get all the best together like the Defenders of the Earth. Melisandre could be great but … she’s a bit of a downer.

KH: She’s a zealot and zealots are dull.

JW: She needs a Gendry to make her warm up again.

 KH: Where is Gendry? On the lam or is he dead?

JW:  No idea and I have just completed the books. GRRM is a bit like going to a massive party with a cokehead. You meet people he claims are important and never hear of them again.

KH: What is Team Stannis doing? Are they heading North? Just hanging out and lighting things up? Never mind. I really don’t care. Let’s talk about Brann and the creepfest twins.


KH: Really?! He’s kind of a wet blanket. He has magical powers, but just sulks about.

JW: His storyline is so slow but I reckon there is going to be a payoff. He’s magic and has no legs. He needs some dinner and the frogfaced friends are not helping.

KH: At least he uses his direwolf and had that crazy tree vision. The littlest Stark and Osha are no longer with them. Where do we think they are?

JW: They are elsewhere and now that Reek has decided to tell Ramsay that they aren’t dead …

KH: Right…Ramsay is on a spree. However, there is too much time spent on that storyline.

JW: Iwan Rheon is stealing the show! I do like the cuts from Reek to sausages.

KH: Every.single.time. So next week — will we see Littlefinger in the Vale? More cannibal Wildlings?

JW: Those Thenns need to not bother. Boo. Hiss. I predict Daario will be back and little and less will happen on the road to Meereen. Ser Jorah will be all upset.

KH: Pouting and crying in the desert.

JW: I am very willing for the TV show to just start a massive diversion. There is so much pouting and crying everywhere.

KH: But that is Jon Snow’s only skill!

JW: It’s about time we had some more war.

KH: War and winter are coming. Don’t worry.

JW: Everyone has been all over the “war is over” vibe.

KH: Do you think we’ll get to go to Dorne?

JW: I want to go to Dorne. It’s going to be MMFMMFMFMFMFMFMFMFMFMFMF all over the show. The show has been off to a great a frantic start. Keep that up and drop in some nudity. Man can not live by blood alone.

Tune in next week for more musings on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO.

Image of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) courtesy of HBO.


Lit Links: Top 10 International Novels, CIA and Doctor Zhivago, The Wisdom of Adrian Mole

The Male vs. Female Perspective
The London Book Fair is in full swing and a lot of debate on gendered writing has been swirling around.  “Although the majority of readers are women, many publishers are more interested in reaching male readers,” writes Susan Harris for Words Without Borders. “Because publishers assume that women will read anyone, but men will read only other men, they tend to choose work by male writers—the
 message being, of course, that male experience is universal, while the female perspective is niche.”

The CIA and Doctor Zhivago
Declassified documents were released this week detailing how CIA operatives printed and circulated copies of the banned book to sew seeds of dissent in the USSR and the Eastern Bloc.

The Legend of Vera Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov wrote some of the most brilliant books of the 20th century, but his wife, Vera, made that possible by taking care of every other aspect of his life. The Atlantic looks at the importance of a a supportive spouse for writers—and why this may be hindering gender parity in literature.

The Wisdom of Adrian Mole
The sad news of the passing of British novelist and playwright Sue Townsend prompted The Telegraph to revisit her brilliant Adrian Mole series and select some of the best quotes. To wit: “I was racked with sexuality but it wore off when I helped my father put manure on our rose bed.” We’ve all been there.

Top Ten International Novels 
The 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominees were announced this  week. Five novels in translation made the cut, making the award truly international. Nominees includeAbsolution by Patrick Flanery, The Garden of Evening Mist by Tan Twan Eng, and A Death in the Family: My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Read this Magazine: The Cleaver Quarterly
Our pals at The Cleaver Quarterly, a Chinese food magazine, aim “to tell you everything you wanted to know but never knew to ask about Chinese food.” From longform journalism to gorgeous photos and illustrations, this new print gem is the bastard child of Lucky Peach and your favorite Chinese takeout.  Check out their Kickstarter to get involved.

Check back each Friday for new Lit Links, a roundup of some of the best literature news from across the interweb.

‘Game of Thrones’ Recap, S4 Ep. 1: Odd Couples

Season 4, Episode 1: Two Swords
After nine months—and a very painful 30 minutes waiting for HBO Go to work—we were back in Westeros. Season four of Game of Thrones was off to a rollicking start with a record-breaking 6.6 million viewers (not counting everyone who will watch it in reruns this week or who are torrenting it in China as we speak). While we are all—as a nation, nay, a species—still processing the trauma of the Red Wedding, we were ready to get back into the fray with dragons, light incest, and deadly political scheming.
Totals this episode:
Deaths: 5
Nudity: 4 women, 0 men
New horrors: cannibalism

Kadi Hughes: Where should be start?

Laura Dannen Redman: With me humming the theme song…daaaa daaaa dadada daaaaa. (Ed. note: Goats singing the theme song is even better.)

 Can we talk about how well this show does odd couples?
LDR Yes, please. 

 Tyrion and Bronn, Jamie and Brienne, Arya and the Hound. They are all so amazing and endearing. These relationships are almost sweet—which I can’t believe I am saying about anything in the GoT universe.
LDR Arya and Tywin Lannister.

 Arya and everyone is amazing because she is the best character.

 And a smart little actress. 
KH: Agreed. The friendships are such a contrast to the sexual relationships on the show. For most of those, I can’t get invested, because they are either a) gross or b)  going to end in brutal-and-bloody-stabbing-in-your-pregnant-stomach death.
LDR Interesting point: The sex is overrated, the friendships the crux of the story.

KH: BFFs rule Westeros, I guess.
LDR : It’s all about alliances, and they’re constantly changing.

 Let’s talk about Arya and the Hound. The end scene was the strongest in a strong episode, I think. Arya is transitioning nicely from plucky teenage girl to sociopathic badass and I approve.

 Under the tutelage of the Hound, is she going to learn courage or ruthlessness?  She’s stopped repeating her death poem/death lullaby. Now she’s just living out the nightmare—and stabbing bad guys in the throat with the pointy end of the stick.
KH Before she could fit nicely into the whole YA genre of female heroines, like Katniss from The Hunger Games or Tris from Divergent, but when she slowly runs that sword through Polliver—super graceful and nonplussed—and then recites his own evil deathwish back to him….THAT SHIT WAS FUCKING COLD AND AWESOME.

 It was like something out of No Country for Old Men or The Professional. Ice in her veins, and the perfect line for every murder.

 She has the potential to become the most terrifying character.
It’s interesting comparing her to Sansa, who also has ice in her veins.
LDR She does. Sansa is in a tough spot.  Her father, mother, brothers (three that she knows of) and sister are all presumably dead. She’s married to a Lannister, and not the hot blond one.

 But he’s the best one!
LDR: I’d rather be married to Tyrion, as well.
KH: She just feels constantly trapped.
LDR Bird in a cage (all those little bird allusions from earlier seasons). And now Joffrey is threatening to serve the head of her brother to her on a plate at his wedding feast. BUT in walks disgraced and drunk Ser Dontos.

It’s nice that she gets that act of kindness, but I want her to stay away from him. He’s an idiot and idiots will only get her in trouble.

 True.  She’s still a bit naïve and drawn to kindness…though, ironically, she isn’t drawn to Tyrion’s kindness. The Sansa-Dontos duo is going to be one of the less interesting pairings this season. I want more of Prince Oberyn and Ellaria Sand of Dorne.

 Excellent entrance from those two, and props to Oberyn for wearing a robe dress and making it look tough.

 I wish he had a long mustache to twirl—that would seem right in character. “The Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts.” Muahaha. Twirl ‘stache.

 Badass. I did like his scene with Tyrion. I think there’s some mutual respect between that pair of second sons.
LDR:  Right. And they share a love of brothels. Though it’s interesting that the sexual stakes are different this season. First, Lannister incest. Then the outing of Renly and Ser Loras. Now bisexual Oberyn.

 GoT is so insane, so sensational, that we as viewers don’t even register incest as being gross anymore. The scene with Jamie and Cersei talking about their relationship did not creep me out at all, where as in the first episode, when they were macking it, it was very shocking. In any other show, if a brother was trying to have sex with his sister, that would be the main event. Something with huge ramifications.

 You know, you’re right. Why doesn’t their relationship bother us anymore? 

 They are each other’s refuge, I think.

 Why do they get a free pass? Is it because Jamie is a more sympathetic character now that he’s been broken? Missing a hand and all?

 When you see how terrible that family and that world is, you want them to have some sort of respite.

 Like Flowers in the Attic? That shit bothered me.

 Flowers in the Attic is traumatizing. All the characters on GoT are sympathetic in a way, even Cersei. I understand why she does what she does—I don’t agree with it—but I understand it.
LDR:  True. Cersei nearly breaking down during the siege was very much a GoT show direction, not part of the books. She’s more vulnerable on the show.

 Or do we no longer care about the incest issue because we are thirsting for more sensationalist things? Bisexual orgies and cannibalism?

 The cannibalism! I almost forgot! See, how bad is that? The Thenns (wildlings) are cannibals who like to roast up a good forearm! Are we numb?

 By the series end, what will they have to do to shock us?
LDR: Sex with dragons.
KH:  Not to get too Rust Cohle on this, but whatever horror they show, we will be responsible for.
LDR:  Oooh. 

 So if it is sex with dragons, we are complicit.
LDR: Can’t we blame George RR Martin a little? And HBO?
KH:  Sure, but HBO is only making them because we’re watching —and crashing their platform. Switching gears, what do we think about Dany’s latest liberation march?
LDR: I still somehow think she’s the most balanced of the leaders: noble and ruthless, firm and fair.

 I liked seeing the bigger dragons, but my no. 1 complaint now and forever about this show is that if there are going to be mythological beasts in this universe, USE THEM MORE.

 Oh totally. 

 There was an article comparing Dany’s philosophy to George W Bush’s foreign policy, pointing out that they align on most things.
LDR:  Shock and awe?

 The Dany storyline drags a bit for me.

 It’s going to ramp up once Daario, aka Nashville,  becomes a love interest.
KH:  I hope so. I like the recast. The dude from Nashville is better looking.

 And she likes strong men…speaking of strong men: Jon Snow.
KH: Jon Snow. I know he is your future ex-husband but he just doesn’t do it for me. Stop pouting, cut your hair.
LDR:  I work with what we have in the absence of Robb Stark/
Richard Madden.

 I did like the small scene when he mourns the death of Robb (my future ex-husband). 

 I appreciate the need for the scene where he confronts the Night Watch elders about being a traitor…but in the grand scheme of Westeros wrongdoing, he seems so clean.

 Agreed. I also liked how Old Man Targaryen on the Night’s Watch council was so flippant about the rules. Those elders are so out of touch with reality.
LDR:  Old Man Targyeran is up there with the Hound in terms of accidental comedy.
KH:  Old Man T was like, “Shut up, fools. No one cares about your bullshit. Let’s get to work!”
LDR:  “Build me a ramp so I don’t have to keep going up and down these damn stairs!”
KH: While watching this episode—mainly because they were harping on poor Jamie so much about his age—I realized I don’t have a good sense of Westeros physics. Do the humans have human lifespans? The seasons are doing their own thing so do humans age differently?
LDR: I always assumed they did, but if the seasons don’t match up—maybe he’s 40 in dog years?
KH:  It has crossed my mind that with our seven-month winter this year, maybe we are moving toward Westeros seasonal time? But I digress. Do they have the same diseases as we do? Tyrion must have herpes, right?
LDR:  One would think so. I’m betting there was a plague of some kind.
KH: It was also useful looking at that map of Westeros because I had no idea where Dorne was.

LDR: Dorne is this desert land where everyone’s tan and eats spicy foods, per the book. The 
New Mexico of Westeros.
KH:  So is Oberyn Walter White and his lover is the Jesse Pinkman of Dorne?
LDR: Oh man, does he have a dirty deal with the proprietor of Ye Old El Pollo Loco?

 How else would he finance his trip to King’s Landing? So next week…
LDR: Next week, we’ll probably see Stannis and Melisandre.

We will probably catch up with Bran and Hodor and the creepfest twins.
LDR:  And revisit Theon/Reek.
KH:  Stannis and Melisandre, being boring, despite having demon gods on their side. Theon…enough. I don’t care. The torture porn was at Mel Gibson levels last year. I am spent.

 I truly forget what happens to his character.

 Isn’t he just a eunuch slave? Crawling about? I would rather a five-minute interlude of direwolves loping across a plain.

KH: Do you think that Joffrey’s wedding will be next week?

LDR:  I think they’ll hold out for mid-late season now. 
Will there be as many intensely gruesome violent scenes each episode?
KH:  I think so.

 I had to cover my eyes. The cast kept saying in pre-seasn interviews, “Things get dark.”  How black are our souls going to get? 

 I  had to palate cleanse before bed with some 30 Rock reruns.

Oh, me too! Parks and Rec.
KH: I think it is safe to say, everyone is going to die and it is going to be terrible/amazing.  Hopefully in the end there will just be dragons and direwolves, frolicking in the sunset.
LDR:  Probably crossbreeding.
 KH:  YES! DIREGONS. I think that should be the name of our new intramural softball team or something.

Tune in next week for more musings on the latest episode of Game of Thrones. The show airs Sunday nights at 9 on HBO.

Image of Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) and Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) courtesy HBO.

Lit Links: Faulkner in Hollywood, Jargon Wars, Breaking Bad Memoir

William Faulkner’s Hollywood Odyssey
What happens when the greatest Southern writer tries to make it in Tinseltown? Movies stars, true love, and a lot of bourbon.

Mark Twain and the American Voice
How does a nation find its voice? When did American novels become American, and not just imitations of British ones?  This excellent article in The New Yorker looks at how America learned to hear itself talk (spoiler: Mark Twain taught us).

Are We Losing the War Against Jargon?
OMG. IMHO this is SRSLY NP. FWIW the Telegraph RBTL.
(ed. note: I am so old and uncool that just typing those abbreviations exhausted me.)

Flash Fiction Fridays
“Celery green sage green celedon. Ceylon. Iced tea sweet tea cubed coned shaved syrup. Sno-cone. Home.” This week’s installment of Tin House‘s flash fiction feature (under 1,000 words) is a real gem from Caitlin Corrigan.

The One Who Knocks: A Memoir
Bryan Cranston lands a book deal to write a memoir about his time on Breaking Bad. We’re huge BB fans but is this really necessary? Perhaps it’s time to let Walter White rest in peace.

Check back each Friday for new Lit Links, a roundup of some of the best literature news from across the interweb.